Result: The Final Consequence of Action
Updated: Jan 9, 2019
How hard is it to stick to a plan? How many times have you set a course of action for yourself, be it continuing your education, looking for a new job, or taking a risk to try something new, and the actual goal was never accomplished?
A result is the final consequence of a sequence of actions or events. Now, that doesn't mean that you won't get a result by doing nothing. However, that result is due a series of in-actions vs. actions.
Let's take for example your business plan. You've gone through the time and effort to have someone facilitate a day or more of strategic thinking that has resulted in some strategic initiatives, goals, and action plans. Now you're back at the office and doing the same routine.
So why are strategic plans not implemented?
Motivation and Personal Ownership - If the individuals responsible for implementation do not see what's in it for them (WIFM), it won't get done. In fact, typically the initiative fails because the people responsible for implementing it are not convinced of its value. So what are the symptoms this is occurring in your organization? Usually, there is employee resistance. There is a lack or no sense of urgency. Also, individuals have an inability to view strategic planning as an important and exciting part of their job, and there is usually a lack of better sales effort. There is no enthusiasm around the vision and strategy that has been set.
Communication - Since most people don't get this right at home, with one in two U.S. marriages ending in divorce, what makes us think we're going to get it right at work. The failure to communicate the vision and strategic objectives to stakeholders can mean that the organization doesn't know how the objectives look and feel, what steps to take, what time frame, etc. Or, "the management team doesn't follow the strategy themselves." You know, do what I say, not what I do
No Plan Behind the Idea - Most great plans, aren't. They are just nice, high-level ideas. It seems that many of our strategic planning sessions stop halfway; the plan never gets developed. Very little planning, if any, goes into the implementation process. They are purely undeveloped intentions. In fact, most strategy documents never actually state what is to be done from day to day and a way to track the actual progress. Most strategies stop at the 'conceptual stage' rather than actually giving specific tasks to be done. If all of this sounds like a lot of work, perhaps this says it all: "Ideas are easier to talk about than do."
Passive Management - This is characterized by assuming that things will run themselves after we get them started, which is about as likely as being hit by lightning while being eaten by a shark. Instead, I suggest that implementing strategic plans is more like keeping plates spinning atop a number of pointed sticks. If we don't put forth a regular effort to keep them spinning, the plates will fall down and the sticks will end up in uncomfortable places. This is demonstrated throughout the organization when things are said, such as, "When the implementation phase begins there is not enough follow-through -- or follow-up for that matter -- from senior management." While leadership is expected to communicate the vision and support it with demonstrable actions, management is expected to know how to execute the individual tactics. When this doesn't happen, the organization sees, "All talk and no action, failure to assign and hold individuals accountable for delivering on the assignments." What's missing is "...this is the objective, this is how we're going to get there, here is your part in the plan and you will be held accountable."
Leadership - A great analogy is this, "leadership is like fly-fishing -when you're up to your waist in it, it's suddenly much harder than it looks!" Most leaders grossly underestimate what it takes to lead effectively. In fact, weak leadership results in improper resource allocation, lack of buy-in, poor follow-through, inadequate checks, misaligned goals/strategies/actions, inefficient rewards and punishments, cover ups, etc. The message is that we are all called to lead from wherever we are, even if we're not at the top.
So, does any of this sound familiar within your organization? We get things done that we understand, see the value in, and clearly know what is expected. Organizationally, many leaders enjoy the visionary aspects of strategic thinking and planning, however, the specific actions to achieve that vision requires hard work. It also requires consistency of communication and follow-through.
Don't accept a strategy plan that sits on the shelf or is half done. Lead by example.....get the action steps developed, the time lines established, and follow-through. Regular quarterly meetings based on the progress achieved will not only help to move the organization forward, but create continued alignment towards where you're going and how you're going to get there. To help you in that effort, using outside facilitation is a means to increase accountability and continue communication.
As you move towards the end of another year and you ask yourself, "Did we achieve the results we anticipated?" Maybe you should rethink how you've gone about it and begin to close the gaps.
Jayne McQuillan, CPA, MBA, CEPA is a strategic management consultant, and the owner of Journey Consulting, LLC, in Green Bay